HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — Movie star Joey Lauren Adams and armwrestling legend Michael (The Monster) Todd — both Hot Springs residents — will reign as queen and king of the First Ever 21st Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade® in downtown Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, on March 17.
“Our parade protocols say that the parade royalty must be Hot Springs residents, and we are fortunate this year to have Joey Lauren Adams and Michael Todd reign over our world-famous little parade,” Visit Hot Springs CEO Steve Arrison said. “They’ll both be easily recognizable for the 30,000 fans who gather on and around 98-foot Bridge Street for this 21st annual edition.”
Adams and Todd will join National Football League legend Emmitt Smith and “Yellowstone” TV star Forrie J. Smith as the parade’s celebrity grand marshal and official starter, respectively.
Adams is a native of North Little Rock. Her career was jump started when she appeared opposite Ben Affleck in Kevin Smith’s movie, “Chasing Amy,” which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. She has also appeared in Richard Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused,” “bio-Dome” and Smith’s “Mallrats.”
In 2006, Adams released her writing and directorial debut film, “Come Early Morning,” starring Ashley Judd and Jeffrey Donovan. Shot in North Little Rock, the film was selected for the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and she was awarded the Women in Film Dorothy Arzner Directors Award. She recently directed
the film “Betrayed by My Bridesmaid,” shot entirely in Hot Springs.
Growing up in Arkansas in a time where debts were settled and strength was tested with armwrestling, Todd has collected 23 world titles and 36 national titles, placing him among the most reputable arm wrestlers of all time.
He was born and brought up in Hot Springs and says he feels fortunate to have grown up in a small town. “I was fortunate enough to grow up in a small town in America and had a lot of time to play outside and enjoy the Natural State of Arkansas,” he said.
As a kid, Todd was always into combat sports and went on to achieve a black belt in Taekwondo. But as he started growing up, his interest shifted toward the sport of armwrestling. At the age of 17, in 1990, he went on to compete in his first arm-wrestling event. “I was immediately hooked to the sport,” he said.
Not having any family members or a coach nearby, Michael taught himself the intricacies of armwrestling. He competed in armwrestling matches with his father while training, and after he started competing in state and national level arm-wrestling events, he was able to pick up wins against him.
His wife, Rebecca, is a seven-time National Woman’s Armwrestling Champion and Ryan Morin, Todd’s stepson, is a seven-time National Champion.
Adams said she attended her first World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade® in 2023 as a spectator.
“My husband, Brian Vilim, and I moved to Hot Springs in 2022. We were shooting a film on St. Patty’s Day that year and sadly missed the parade,” she said. “My grandparents had a cabin on Lake Catherine and I spent lots of time in Hot Springs growing up. I’m an actress/writer/director. One of the highlights of my career was getting a plaque on the Arkansas Walk of Fame here in Hot Springs.”
Asked her favorite part of the parade, Adams said, “I love how irreverent it all is and that the entire town is in on it. Also, Anthony [Valinoti’s] Elvis outfit [as part of the International Order of Marching Irish Elvi]. He better wear it this year.” Valinoti owns and operates Deluca’s Pizzeria on Central Avenue.
Adams added, “My ancestors were McNeils and horse thieves in Scotland. They got run out so they ‘repented’ and settled in Ireland. My great-grandfather moved from Ireland to Scott, Ark., around 1910.”
Todd said he attended his first parade in 2015 as a spectator.
“My favorite part of the parade is seeing everyone having a good time and enjoying our little town,” he said. As far as being selected as the parade’s king, he said, “I’m very honored. I love this town and I’m happy to be a part of showing everyone what an amazing place we have here.”
Entries are now being accepted for participants in the First Ever 21st Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade®.
“Only 40 entries are accepted each year, and entries are cut off after we get 40,” Arrison said. “We’d love to be able to take more, but since our parade is only 98 feet long, we have to limit the number of folks who can participate.”
Arrison said information for registering can be had by emailing Visit Hot Springs Special Events Manager Alexis Hampo at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the entry form.
The World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade annually attracts more than 30,000 fans from across the country to Bridge Street, which Ripley’s Believe It or Not declared the World’s Shortest Street in Everyday Use. It features an array of 40 or more zany entries that include a troupe of marching Irish Elvis Presley impersonators, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, wacky floats, marching bands and assorted performance groups who adopt the parade’s irreverent take on the boisterous holiday.
Country music star Pat Green will perform a free public concert on Saturday, March 16, to kick off a weekend of big fun. The pop tribute band The Molly Ringwalds will perform a free concert immediately after the parade on Sunday, March 17.
For more information call Steve Arrison at 501-321-2027.